I received review copies of both Ryan Holiday's Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator and B.J. Mendelson's Social Media Is Bullshit." Though Holiday attacks the very foundations of blogging as a productive way to share information and Mendelson rejects the concept of social media as a way to get known, they both passed on requests for review copies to their publishers thus routing their books to a blogger who writes about social media as a useful toolbox so that maybe, if they were lucky, they could sell a few more books.
Let's call it, The Audacity of the Snake Oil Salesman!"
Ryan Holiday - Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
Despite my opening remarks, I believe Holiday's book is well worth a read for anyone interested in contemporary media, blogs, online news, marketing and manipulation. Yes, he overstates his case. No, he doesn't truly open up about his past preferring to share bits and pieces and then go on the warpath attacking media outlets with a bit of scum in their brand like Gawker and the Huffington Post.
Yet, though he does reveal some potent tactics of manipulation he also reveals himself in ways that are puzzling at times. For example, he speaks warmly of such clients as Robert Greene, whose brand is built on tips for seizing power and treating other humans as material to be manipulated, Dov Charney, whose brand exemplifies what can happen when you bill yourself as a b-list Terry Richardson, and Tucker Max, who joyfully embraces the label of asshole." Now I'm supposed to believe they're really nice guys?
Holiday himself, I would assume, presents some key points from his book regarding today's culture":
1. Blogs like Gawker, BuzzFeed, and the Huffington Post drive the media agenda.
2. Bloggers are slaves to money, technology, and deadlines.
3. Manipulators wield these levers to shape everything you read, see, and hear—online and off.
I can understand why social media marketers are upset but, unfortunately for the part of Holiday that wants to do good, his expose is unlikely to actually change anything. Not only that, too many of his critical revelations are already out there on the web from writers such as Holiday himself and from more established media critics. See much change?
Nevertheless I learned a couple of manipulation tricks, some bits and pieces about Holiday's activities and a few more anecdotes about the depraved manipulators at Gawker. And I read every page.
Even though Holiday makes broad, unsupportable generalizations that his editor should have called him on, there's some meat here and plenty to work with if you are interested in attacking the mainstream end of the blogging industry especially where it intersects with mass media.
B.J. Mendelson - Social Media Is Bullshit
I can't recommend Mendelson's book. I couldn't read it all the way through. It's somewhat chaotic and driven by the basic concept that social media marketers are snake oil salesmen and that if your social media campaigns fail, it's not because you're doing it wrong, it's because their advice sucks.
And if it's supposed to be funny, um, I guess I skipped those parts?
Honestly, if you think social media is total bullshit, if you aren't too picky about details, if you believe every example of musicians getting their start via YouTube are fake, if you read artists' accounts of how they built a fanbase and yet find your attempts always fall flat, this is the book for you.
No longer will you have to be concerned that you just don't get it or that your music sucks or that people hate you because you're an ahole. Blame it on those liars at
And best of luck in your endeavors.